Dear John

John's weaving
John’s weaving

Sonya , our roving reporter, is bringing you John’s story this week. It has been great to have weaving looms up and running again. As someone who is self taught he has shown us the value of methodical, regular and planned learning.




You’ve only been with us a month or two but you are quite indispensable!  Such a tall strong and muscled up man, (and handsome!) you single handed set up our heavy trestle tables and dismantle them again at the end of our day. And you have given validity to our name Spinners and Weavers. After a lapse of some years we have a weaving group! You have inspired and taught Peter and Marina the ancient and seemingly complicated art of threading up and working their loom. Peter’s outstanding weaving has quickly materialised, impressing us all. What a tribute to your teaching, John.

Here is his story.

When I was pensioned off from the mining industry someone asked me to make some weaving tools, which I did. From that time I started repairing weaving looms .It then occurred to me that I should actually know how to use weaving looms, so that I would know better how to repair them or make parts for them.

I went to the Weavers’ Guild and was told that Bev Bills, one of their members, had been weaving for many years. I learned the basics from Bev and then plodded along on my own. I read a lot of weaving books!

I’ve now   got 4 shaft, 6 shaft and 8 shaft looms. I also have three Inkle looms (they are used for making bands, belts, handles etc.)

What used to be our lounge is now my weaving room! Fortunately my dear wife doesn’t object to that. She does bobbin lace making, but as yet isn’t into weaving. I buy my yarn from various sources. I got some from the Hills group at Littlehampton and it was there that I met Peter and Marina. They said ‘why not come to Seaford Spinners and Weavers.’ Good promo thanks Peter and Marina!  Heard of that group but didn’t know where it was. Now, thanks to them, I found where it was and here I am. Currently I am using a loom that used to belong to this group. I fixed it up a bit and now it’s done the full circle.


Our wheels

Jan joined our group last year and brings to it a lot of skill and experience. She is an alpaca breeder and so enjoys spinning her fleece . She has plenty of information and knowledge to share with us. We are a group which likes to spin alpaca fleece. Her wheel is a Ron Doley upright wheel. It is beautifully made and has been reliable. On Monday she was spinning some baby alpaca fleece from one of her male alpacas which had been shorn before it found its new home on New Year’s Day. Jan is very passionate about her farm and animals . One of her tips for spinning fleece is to mix it will wool for the sleeve and waist bands on jumpers so they don’t stretch.


Make art yarn

There’s been considerable interest in the magical art yarn post we put up the other day. People are excited about colour and colour blending. Great way to start the year. We love making our own art yarn. We like sharing ideas about colourways and how to spin something which looks both original and attractive. Colour and texture are always important. Art yarns can use up your bits and pieces of dyed or leftover fibre. You just need the ideas. The UrbanGypZ video does just that for you. Shows you a way of getting an interesting yarn together.

Unusual fibres

It was Christine and Margaret who got us all enthusiastic about rare breeds and unusual fibres because they had seen them at the Bendigo Wool and Sheep Show this year. Margaret has been spinning different breeds and fibres she bought. It was good , then, that we could visit the rare breeds and fibres shop at Salisbury when we were out for Equipment Day. We really enjoyed having a chance to look at and feel the fibres and fleeces advertised on their site.

Janette has been spinning the camel and silk fibre. It’s like iced coffee in colour and so soft. There’s a nice sheen to it too. There was some lovely llama fibre (right) she had purchased too which is the colour of milk chocolate and also very soft. These fibres are good to spin but also make a change because  while you are spinning you are thinking about how you will use them. They encourage your creative thinking because of the look and texture. We are all still wondering what we shall do with the rose fibre a number of us bought…it will happen!